for cigarettes has not had the desired result. People are still smoking. Nobody really expected them to stop - but what is more disturbing is that tobacco consumption is apparently on the rise again. Illegal tobacco sales are also on the rise - at an estimated $1bn a year.
I have no qualms about telling people I do mind if they smoke near me. I recently told someone who wanted to look at my tricycle he could - but only if he wasn't smoking.
"The trouble with you ex-smokers...."
"Actually I have never as much as tried to smoke a cigarette," I told him.
He put his cigarette out, took out his phone and took a photograph of the drive mechanism - all while I was packing the groceries into the rear basket. As I left he relit his cigarette and drew heavily on it. I could hear him coughing as I pedalled off.
Smoking is something I have never been able to understand. As a child I felt ill around smokers. I still do. As a student, a teacher and member of university staff and as an attendee at far too many meetings I have had to endure sitting in smoke filled rooms while others smoked.
"It's legal. We have a right to smoke." I was told that over and over again even when I tried not to look as if I disapproved and made no complaint. People still knew. I suppose my coughing and watering eyes gave me away.
It is still legal. People still have a right to smoke. But, the dangers of secondary smoking are now well known. I genuinely believe that, legal or not, people do not have the right to force me to smoke alongside them.
I admit I am not surprised if plain paper packaging does not cause a dramatic drop in the consumption of tobacco. I hoped it might but thought the addiction factor would be too strong.
Does plain packaging stop people from taking up the tobacco habit? I doubt it. It probably adds to the mystique and the siren lure. If we want people to cease smoking and we want to discourage people from taking up the habit then we probably need to make it harder for them to smoke, we need even fewer places where they can smoke. A start has been made with bans in some places but I can think of more places...such as bus shelters and railway stations and the area surrounding shopping centres , not just inside the centres themselves.
Yes, I know. I can hear the cry, "But it's legal. We have the right to smoke. Car fumes are just as bad." Oh yes. Smoking is legal. You have the right to smoke. What is not legal and what you do not have the right to do is assault me - and your cigarette smoke is an assault. It can have serious medical consequences for the non-smokers as well as the smokers. Car fumes are not good but, realistically, smoking is a deliberate and avoidable choice which harms other people as well.
Okay, off the soap box - but where and when would you like to see people banned from smoking?